The creator of Playboy magazine, Hugh Hefner, died Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017, from natural causes in his iconic Playboy Mansion in Hollywood, California.
Born Hugh Marston Hefner on April 9, 1926, in Chicago, Illinois, to city schoolteachers, Grace and Glenn Hefner.
The Playboy mogul, known to most everyone as Hef, is survived by his wife Crystal Harris and his four grown children: Daughter Christie Hefner, 64, former chief executive of Playboy Enterprises for over 20 years and his sons David Hefner, 62, Marston Hefner, 27, and Cooper Hefner, 26, chief creative officer of Playboy Enterprises. According to Playboy, information about memorial services are not yet available.
Wednesday night Hefner’s youngest son Cooper said that his father “lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer.” He went on to say that his father was a “leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time, in advocating free speech, civil rights, and sexual freedom.”
Before life at the Playboy Mansion, the pioneer joined the army during World War II, as an infantry clerk, after he graduated high school, in 1944. While serving his country, Hef contributed cartoons for the army’s newspaper and was honorably discharged in 1946.
Though many may think of the man behind the flesh to be just that a man after one thing, sexual gratification, Hefner is much more. During his high school years, the icon started a school newspaper, and his IQ is believed to have been 152. He also created a comic book entitled “School Daze.”
After serving his time in the military, Hef went on to college and studied at the Chicago Art Institute for a summer before he enrolled at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. There, he studied psychology and earned his bachelor’s degree in 1949, the year he married his first wife Mildred Williams. The mogul went on to a year of graduate work in sociology, focusing on the sex research with the institute established by Alfred Kinsey.
Before he created Playboy magazine, Hef worked for the Chicago office of Esquire magazine as a copy-writer. He quit the job when he was denied a $5 raise.
Hefner was determined to start his own publication and began to raise money to do just that. He rounded up $8,000 from 45 different investors, two of which was his mother and brother Keith, who contributed $2,000. The icon planned on naming the magazine Stag Party, however, due to a trademark infringement he could not. A colleague suggested the name Playboy and Hef liked it because he thought it reflected sophistication and high living.
In December 1953, Playboy magazine hit newsstands with a colored photo of Marilyn Monroe, in the nude, and placed in the centerfold of the magazine. The first issue did not have a date because Hef did not know if there was going to be a second issue. The issue sold 50,000 copies and became an instant sensation and thus, Playboy magazine was made.
Hefner turned Los Angeles, California, into his home base and claimed Playboy as a place for women and his Playmates. Though he was ahead of his time, he would not back down and fought for women’s issues like birth control. He also friended the court in Roe v. Wade in 2010, which gave women the right to choose to have an abortion.
Though the famous Playboy Mansion was sold last year to Daren Metropoulos, co-owner of Hostess Cakes, Hefner made a clause that he would be able to spend the rest of his life there. Even in retirement, the icon continued to make cameo appearances in movies. He helped save the Hollywood sign, twice. Amazon announced, last year, that there are 13-episodes about the mogul called, “American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story.”
Hefner once said, he has lived out his dreams and fantasies and feels he has played some part in changing the world, “It’s pretty sweet.”
By Tracy Blake
New York Times: Hugh Hefner, Who Built Playboy Empire and Embodied It, Dies at 91
NBC News: Hugh Hefner, Playboy Magazine Mogul, Dies at 91
CNN: Playboy founder Hugh Hefner dead at 91
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Benjamin Chan’s Flickr page – Creative Commons License